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The New York Knicks are playing superb basketball on both ends of the court these days and their 24-19 record bodes well for their top two players making a 2023 NBA All-Star appearance. Currently the Knicks rank tenth in both offensive rating and defensive rating. During the last 15 games the Knicks rank fifth and eight respectfully in both categories. After defeating the Washington Wizards on Friday night, during the Wizards postgame, Coach Wes Unseld Jr. and Kyle Kuzma both acknowledged how the Knicks defense packs the paint and forces opposing offenses to “make the right play” or attempt the temporarily open three point shot, until one of the Knicks gritty perimeter defenders close out to the shooter that is. Knicks are currently third in the league in terms of the most opposing three-point field goals attempted against them. They’re also number one in the league in opposing three-point field goal percentage. Opposing teams are shooting 34% from three-point range against the New York Knicks. Opposing poor three-point shooting teams may have to keep launching away because Coach Tom Thibodeau is taking away the pick and roll into the paint.
Meanwhile, good three-point shooting teams will have to face the wrath of Tom Thibodeau’s Knicks perimeter defenders which consists of Jalen Brunson (who’s a respectable perimeter defender), Immanuel Quickley, Quentin Grimes, Miles McBride and even big men Jericho Sims & Mitchell Robinson who’re both also nimble on the perimeter, more so Sims, whenever he gets his limited opportunities.
Randle & Barrett Are Benefitting From Brunson’s Arrival, But Grimes Emergence Is Very Special.
RJ Barrett is officially back from his lacerated finger injury sustained during an introduction to a nightmarish yet miraculous loss on the road against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks and has picked up where he left off in terms of scorching offensive play. Julius Randle is arguably having the best season of his career and so is Jalen Brunson. Even though Knick fans are casting votes to get RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Jalen Brunson into 2023 NBA All-Star weekend, there is a sense from fans that the Knicks still aren’t playing their best basketball yet. Many including the Knicks are hungry for more victories against upper echelon teams in contention for a championship.
The forgotten prodigy coming out of high school before entering his first year at the University of Kansas before he decided to go to Houston University, Quentin Grimes has found his niche with the Knicks under Head Coach Tom Thibodeau. What doesn’t Grimes do on the basketball court? The ultimate 3 & D glue guy who can get as hot as a tea kettle from beyond the arc if opposing perimeter defenders relax just a little bit. Grimes whereabouts must be accounted for at all times and this alone takes offensive pressure off Julius Randle, Jalen Brunson, and RJ Barrett. The importance of Grimes play on both ends as well as his basketball IQ has plenty to do with the Knicks current top ten position in terms of both defensive rating and offensive rating.
Jalen Brunson The Closer!
The Knicks have their point guard for the history books. Jalen Brunson has been phenomenal running the show and being an extension of Thibs just like Derrick Rose during Rose’s career. Not athletically insane like Rose use to be, Brunson brings a different level of smarts and toughness to the game in general. The clutch DNA is also inside of Brunson as long as Tom Thibodeau refrains from playing Brunson into the ground so when the fourth quarter arrives fatigue doesn’t turn Brunson into an unknown player, you know, for example uncharacteristic turnovers and fouls due to both physical and mental fatigue. However, Brunson turns the ball over at a very low rate and this kind of efficiency on offense helps the Knicks defensively as well. A team that doesn’t beat itself becomes even tougher in its opponents’ eyes.
Overall, this season the Knicks are playing smart yet tough nosed basketball on both ends. They’re physical on both ends of the court and opposing coaches have no choice but to play into the Knicks defensive strengths. What could an opposing coach do offensively? Continue launching three pointers against the best three point defending team in the league percentage-wise? Or drive into the lane where Tom Thibodeau and the Knicks like to pack and label it the “no fly zone”.